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Doping whistleblower ban: Kendrah Potts talks to the Today Programme

Posted on 27 July 2016

Doping whistleblower ban: Kendrah Potts talks to the Today Programme

Following the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to ban whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova from the Rio Olympic Games, Stepanova and her partner have spoken out against the IOC saying that the ban will put other athletes off coming forward.

Mishcon de Reya Sports Lawyer, Kendrah Potts, who was also legal counsel to the commission set up by the UCI to investigate doping in cycling and allegations of mismanagement or corruption by the UCI, featured on the BBC's Today Programme commenting on this story.

Kendrah commented that whistleblowers have the potential to be instrumental in rooting out wider doping issues in sport, and that the IOC's approach does not encourage other whistleblowers to come forward. She stressed that athletes will only volunteer information if they have confidence in their governing body or other authorities. The allegations of cover ups within the IAAF have undermined that trust and the IAAF will have to work to rebuild it. Interestingly, the IAAF eligibility rules were amended in June and created a specific exception to allow athletes providing an "exceptional contribution to the protection of clean athletes" to compete as neutral athletes where their national federation was suspended.

Kendrah also talked about the legal difficulties surrounding the IOC's decision to prohibit Russian athletes who have previously served a ban for a doping offence from competing in Rio. She commented that based on previous Court of Arbitration for Sport decisions, including a previous decision that found the IOC's "Osaka" rule (which prohibited athletes banned for longer than six months for a doping offence from participating in the next Olympics) to be unenforceable on the basis that it imposed an additional sanction in contravention of the WADA Code, it was difficult to see how, legally, the IOC's position could be justified. Even if the reports of state-sponsored doping in Russia justify additional criteria for Russian athletes, this does not justify treating Russian athletes who have served a suspension differently.

To listen to the interview please click here (this story features 1.27 minutes into the recording).